Toyota Cowboys back-rower Tariq Sims can hardly believe that he’ll get to play against one of his firm favourites as a young footballer when the NRL Auckland Nines kicks off on Saturday.

Sims idolises former Kangaroos and NSW forward Steve Menzies, who has been included in Manly’s 16-man squad for the two-day tournament at 40 years of age.

North Queensland take on the Sea Eagles in their opening pool match at Eden Park on Saturday, giving Sims, who only made his NRL debut in 2011, the chance to go up against one of Manly’s all-time greats for the first time.

Menzies’s last game for Manly before he ventured to Super League was the 2008 grand final win against Melbourne in which he was a try scorer.

“I cannot believe that Menzies is playing, I can’t wait,” Sims said today before the Cowboys left for Auckland.

“He’s one of my favourite players.

“I’m going to ask him for his headgear at some stage during the tournament.

“If I get to tackle him, I think I’ll be starstruck and won’t want to let go.

“He’s an icon of our game, a legend of our game and he’s been overseas and become a legend over there as well.

“Now he’s come back to play Nines and it’s fair to say I’m pretty pumped to get to meet him and play him.”

Asked if he thought if he’d still be playing the game at 40, the 24-year-old Cowboy quickly shook his head and smiled.

“No way,” he said.

“I’ll be lucky if I’m running around at 30!”